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In my ongoing doctoral project, I take as my point of departure the insistent talk about sexual and emotional liberation, fulfillment and personal growth with a focus on Sweden c. 1955–1980. I do this in order to investigate the norms of self-improvement imbedded in these discourses, and what role they played for modern subject formation and the construction of modern social and political identities. I focus upon different pedagogical projects where freedom and authenticity regarding sexual or emotional reactions and expressions were encouraged and made the goal for advanced exercises, elaborate training programs, courses etc. One of my case studies investigates discourses and practices surrounding “sensitivity training” in Sweden in the 1970s – a method for leadership training within the larger frame of organizational development. One of the main purposes of sensitivity training was to teach the participants to become more aware of their inner sensations and more skilled in expressing their emotions to others freely and in a more authentic way. A second case study will examine Swedish sexual education, advice and self-help literature in which the advice seekers were encouraged to strive and work for more satisfying and fulfilling sexual reactions, for example by increasing the ability to experience more intense, strong or deeply felt pleasure.
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